“I live in motion” and “Stations”, by Samira Negrouche: the demanding trajectory of a major voice in Algerian poetry
Samira Negrouche is a writer of effort, always renewed. Reading I live in motion, his personal anthology of poetry (2001-2022), then Stations, a collection of miscellaneous writings, we are struck by its ability to go in several directions without going off course. That of a poet and essayist born in Algiers in 1980, driven by the need to understand her country, Algeria, but also Africa, and of course herself. “It was his generation that had the responsibility of receiving the legacy, the responsibility of examining the traumas, that, now, of living without reproducing”underlines the French writer Nicole Caligaris in the preface to Stations.
Attached to the history of her country, conscious of her past as well as her present, of the diversity of Algerian languages and cultures, Samira Negrouche claims her freedom in each poem, in each essay. Speaking of the Algerians in a letter to Leïla Sebbar, she defines herself with them as “free people who want to live, write poetry and be happy to drink a cup of tea in some Moorish café”.
“Languages that repair themselves”
Bringing together texts published in journals or delivered at conferences around the world, Stations captivated by its thematic construction. In “Who is speaking? “Written in Algiers in 2015, Samira Negrouche imagines a response to the reproach made to her for writing in French.
” Genealogy, French in the Algerian language, my three mother tongues… I had the time to dig into several possible answers, each time trying to be as accurate as possible in my thoughts, to answer questions in the least cynical way. which hide others, undoubtedly more difficult to measure (…)
The three languages that were given to me in my childhood are a living triangle on which other languages freely aggregate, all of which speak and repair each other. I say repair themselves, because languages carry within them moldy costumes that need to be cleared, emotional and ideological charges that need to be shaken off urgently. »
Samira Negrouche knows the traps: discouragement, illusions, beliefs and ready-made ideas. She writes to stay lucid, and avoid them. This comes out fully in her text “For women in black” (August 2007), which questions the place of women, former activists or simply educated and active, in Algeria since the “black decade”.
“God is a black woman”
The acuity of the poet translated into thirty languages is just as striking in her anthology. I live in motion brings together poems published in personal collections (“Jazz under the olive trees”), collective (“I kissed the dawn of summer, in the footsteps of Arthur Rimbaud”; “Departments and territories beyond the sky” in homage to Senghor), and other writings within the framework of a collaboration with an artist.
Thus the sublime “Traces”, imagined in 2019 for the Senegalese choreographer and performer Fatou Cissé. We hear the voice of a woman who does not sleep at night, haunted by “the faces that come back to my memory”. Facing the sea, she watches the ballet of the waves. “Everything about us ends up being covered / everything about us remains”, she says. The poem ends as she crosses Africa from north to south, then goes up to the Porte de Gorée. “God is a black woman with soot-covered legs”she says in this text whose blanks and voids left on the page let you imagine the movement of the dancer.
This movement that Samira Negrouche inhabits, as she declaims on several occasions in the poem “Quai 2I1”. Earlier in the collection, we read poems about Rimbaud and the Arab Springs; a “Requiem for the fig tree of my ancestors”, burned during the forest fires of summer 2021; a text on migration to Europe (“this dead end road, this indeterminate flight”, she wrote). As convincing in experimentation as in more classic forms, Samira Negrouche writes as one dives, without hesitation. His prose embraces with equal ardor passion, anger, longing and pain. At the end there triumphs an energetic call to never allow oneself to be put to sleep or confined.
” Child from dawn
don’t wait – life sleeps
on tamed thresholds. »
Stations, by Samira Negrouche, preface by Nicole Caligaris, ed. Starry honeysuckle (Montpellier), 540 pages, 29 euros.
I live in motion. Anthology (2001-2021), by Samira Negrouche, preface to Nimrod, ed. Barzakh (Algiers), 281 pages, 900 dinars.